For 9 years of my life, I was blessed to be a full-time youth minister, and I absolutely loved it. There were so many highlights: Office Olympics, Mission Trips to Mexico, and watching teens lives be transformed by God’s grace, to name a few. But there was one thing that I hated more than anything. There was one thing that used to demoralize me the moment I would walk into my office: the blinking light on my voicemail.
Honestly, I hated that thing. And seriously why did it have to blink? It was as if it was taunting me:
“You know all those things you wanted to get done today? Not gonna happen.”
“I’m blinking, so you know you have messages, but you don’t know how many. Could be 1, or could be 10, but you’ll have to dial in to find out.”
“Hmmm . . . I wonder who left you a message. Maybe it’s a teen thanking you for a great Life Night. Or maybe it’s an irate parent.”
So, how did I handle this? Most of the time, I put it off. I let that light blink and blink while I got “more important” things done. And when I finally got around to listening to the messages, I still wouldn’t return that call for a day, or two, or three. I had “real” ministry to do, and every time I walked into my office, I had a list of things I needed to get done.
Returning voicemails and emails were just a big interruption, and something tells me I’m not the only youth minister who has struggled with this.
But here’s the problem. That voicemail on your phone . . . it is important. That email that you’ve put off . . . it is important. It may not be important to you, but it’s important to the other person. That’s why they called, and by not responding, you’re basically saying, “You’re not important.”
You see, returning a voicemail or an email isn’t an interruption from ministry, it’s an opportunity for real ministry. Once I changed my perspective, I came to realize that one of the best things I could do for my ministry was to be more professional. And for many of us, that starts with follow up.
So find a time each day that works for you to return messages, and put it on your schedule. Maybe it’s when you first walk into the office. Maybe it’s right after lunch. Or maybe it’s the last hour of your day. Regardless of when, by adding in a specific time period, you’ll be more professional, build more relationships, and minimize those interruptions that keep you from planning the next “Lights Out Dodge Ball Tournament.”
Question: How do you handle returning voicemails and emails? (Share below.)